Discovery Of The 12 Steps

Discovery of the Twelve Steps to Recovery

Alcoholics Anonymous demonstrates its humility by acknowledging that the 12 step programme had its origins outside of AA. It is a story in which physicians and psychiatrists alike admit their inability to solve the problem of addiction, and individuals desperate to recover from a multitude of malignant maladies have made surprising discoveries.

Awareness of the Addiction Problem

Dr William Silkworth

  • Step 1: The problem of alcoholism being a hopeless condition was recognised by Dr William Silkworth, a non-alcoholic urologist
  • Silkworth communicated the problem to Bill Wilson.

Discovery of the Solution to Addiction

Carl Jung

  • Step 2: The phenomenon of a vital spiritual experience being needed to solve the problem was discovered by Carl G Jung, a non-alcoholic Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist.
  • Jung communicated the solution to Rowland Hazard.

Discovery of the 12 Steps to Recovery

Rowland Hazard

  • Rowland Hazard, a very successful American businessman, was on the verge of despair at his inability to control his drinking.
  • He sought help from Sigmund Freud, but Freud was too busy to help. So, he chose that next most eminent psychologist in the world at the time, Carl Jung.
  • Roland travelled to Europe and spent a year with Jung who tried to cure him of chronic alcoholism by conventional psychiatric methods.
  • Roland returned to America confident he was cured, but within a short time relapsed helplessly into alcoholism.
  • Roland questioned Jung as to whether anyone had every fully recovered from alcoholism.
  • Jung told Hazard that some people had recovered through having what he called a "vital spiritual experience."
  • Armed with Dr Jung's insight, Rowland sought a spiritual experience through The Oxford Group.

The Oxford Group

  • The program of action ( steps 3 - 12) to achieve the "vital spiritual experience" originated from the Oxford Group, a group of people practicing first century Christianity .  The Oxford Group had a six step program.
  • The Oxford Group was dedicated to what its members termed "the Four Absolutes" as the summary of the Sermon on the Mount: absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love.

Ebby Thatcher

  • Rowland Hazard, carried the message to Ebby Thatcher, saving him from the courts by pleading with the judge that Ebby attend the Oxford Group.

Bill Wilson

  • Dr Silkworth told Bill Wilson that his alcoholic state had become so hopeless and that he would either die, or be committed to a mental asylum.
  • Bill believed Silkworth (and so had already completed step 1), and almost welcomed death as a solution.
  • Then, Ebby Thatcher told his friend Bill Wilson about how he had got sober.
  • Bill attended The Oxford Group, and discovered that he could stay sober by helping others who had the same addiction problem.
  • In what is often regarded as divine inspiration, Bill Wilson wrote the original twelve steps.
  • Bill Wilson was the the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. He describes the discovery of AA in a talk he made to the New York City Medical Society in 1958.

Alcoholics Anonymous - Original 12 Step Programme

12 Step Recovery Programmes Worldwide

Today, millions of people wordwide find happiness and freedom from a myriad of addictions using the "12 steps of recovery."

Vital Spiritual Experience vs. Spiritual Awakening

Step 12 of the twelve steps suggests that we will have a spiritual awakening as a result of working the steps. Having a "vital spiritual experience" is very occasionally experienced as a flash of divine inspiration. More commonly is occurs as a gradual "spiritual awakening" as a result of perseverance "in the programme". If you have the problem of addiction and want to recover you are probably wondering how on earth you could experience a "vital spiritual experience." We suggest you consider working the 12 steps.